A dessert is to the soul what food is to the stomach. Most of us wrap up a dinner with a dessert. Be it a chocolate, cake, ice cream or some fruit salad, a meal is incomplete without something sweet to nibble on in the end. What follows after that is guilt. The extra calories and fat would add inches to your waist.
Do desserts have to be loaded with calories? Can we not cook up recipes low in fat and carbohydrates? Is there way to have our cake and eat it too? The good news is: yes, there is. By swapping high calorie and fatty ingredients with their healthy alternatives, we cannot only bake delicious cakes for the family but also send cakes by post to friends and surprise them.
Typically, the main ingredients required in baking are:
Traditionally white flour is used in baking. Since this flour is refined, it is stripped of its fibre content, making it calorie dense and unfriendly to the gut. With some proportion modifications, you can use whole wheat flour instead, and still whip up yummy cakes.
If you feel you are eating way too many wheat based foods, you can try a variety of other flours too. Almond flour, coconut flour and soy flour are excellent gluten free flours and can be effectively used in baking. Of course, the baking rules and methods are different when working with these flours.
Butter is the star ingredient to any baking recipe and imparts a creamy texture to the cake. But it does play the villain’s part too, by contributing too many saturated fats. Saturated fats are known to block blood vessels and increase LDL cholesterol, which is bad for the heart. So what could we replace butter with, so that the cake becomes healthy and retains the creaminess too? Fortunately, we do have alternatives that suit our purpose.
Fruits based alternatives: Applesauce, bananas, pumpkin puree and prune puree can be used instead of butter. The proportion of sugar has to be adjusted because of the sweetness of the fruits, which will replace butter. This swap has dual benefits. It cuts down fat content and increases the nutritional value of the cake by adding a host of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Oils: Coconut oil, canola oil and olive oil are good substitutes. These oils are great sources of unsaturated fats which are heart healthy.
Yoghurt is good option to replace butter. A probiotic, it has bacteria, which is good for the gut and adds a velvety texture to the cake.
Often cited as a culprit by weight watchers, sugar is an integral part of our diet. While baking, it is sugar that makes the cake soft, moist and brown. We cannot do away with sugar completely, but can reduce the amount used, by adding other sweet tasting ingredients.
Honey, a natural sweetener is a great replacement for sugar. Cakes made with honey are moist and tend to brown faster.
Stevia, a plant based product, is another excellent substitute. It is naturally very sweet, has zero calories and no sugar or carbohydrates.
Other than these, we have maple syrup, corn syrup and agave nectar which can be instead of sugar.
Eggs are considered healthy and wholesome food and add great texture to cakes. But those who want to avoid eggs for religious reasons, the vegans or for the allergic ones; there is no need to dishearten. We have flaxseed meal, tofu, condensed milk, baking soda and a host of other options, which go into the cake batter as a replacement for eggs. There could be some compromise in texture and smoothness. The taste and flavour are exactly like the one ordered from cake delivery.
Baking is not as easy as cooking. One has to adjust the ratio of ingredients while making any changes in the original recipe.